Friday, November 2, 2007

Have you ever made....Quinoa?

The first time I ever ate quinoa, it was in one of those prepacked box dishes. We didn't like it very much and I didn't really think about eating it again. In the past few years, in the interest of variety and trying to feed my family well, I began thinking again of whole grains. Last winter I bought Lorna Sass's cookbook Whole Grains, Every Day, Every Way and have found it to be a wealth of information. She includes basic cooking instructions for so many grains ( as well as more involved and interesting recipes) and that is where my basic recipe came from.

Even though I have lots of interesting recipes that call for quinoa, I haven't gotten too fancy with it, mainly because I've found it to be a quick weeknight meal addition. One way we've eaten is in place of rice with a stir fry. Basically, you just boil water and add the quinoa to it. Apparently you're supposed to rinse it, which I've never done, but now you know. I use about 1 cup dried for the 3 of us and there is usually a bit left over. I start checking the quinoa for doneness after about 15 minutes, and have found it generally takes 15-20 minutes to cook. You'll see a tiny white ring pull away from the grain and it will be chewy.

The main way we like to eat quinoa and the way we had it last night is as follows.

Cook as directed above, drain and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, a bit of grated Parmesan and toasted pine nuts. I like to use a fork to mix it all together so it doesn't get too clumpy. I think a bit of grated lemon rind would be a nice addition. My almost 6 year old eats this, mainly because she loves pine nuts - I don't dare leave them out.

I thought I'd add a bit of color to this post with this purple broccoli.

It's not local, I found it at Whole Foods and couldn't resist. It has a much more broccoli-ish flavor than the usual grocery store variety. The purple parts turned dark green upon cooking, but left purple water marks on our plates.

I'll be working this weekend (sigh), but since I'm making lasagna tonight for dinner, at least I'll have good meals while I'm there.


Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Tara

No, I don't think I've eaten Quinoa, but I eat couscous a lot though...they're not the same thing are they?

Looks so interesting AND good for you! Thanks for sharing.

Robin said...

We love quinoa at our house! I'll have to try your recipe because I know we'd love it. I Just cook it plain in the rice cooker (I don't rinse it) and serve it with "milk beans," which is a Tanzanian dish with onions, tomatoes, red beans, a little milk to thicken it and a variety of spices. The flavors are delicious! It's a very healthy dish!

Janice said...

I'm so glad you reminded me about quinoa ... one of my favorite whole grains for vegetarians because it's packed with protein and amino acids.

I looked up about rinsing (which I haven't done either), and my book says that the grains are coated with an oily substance called saponin which can be quite bitter.

One of our favorites is a salad made with quinoa, corn kernels, green peas, celery and cucumber dressed with olive oil, lemon and orange juice, mint leaves and basil

Robin, I make a dish similar to yours with couscous and garbanzos.

Always looking for more ideas for cooking with whole grains, and now I'm getting hungry. I shall go now to find that recipe for a breakfast dish

Cornflower said...

We eat a lot of bulgar wheat, but rarely have quinoa - now I have your recipe, Tara, I must try it becuase it sounds a lot more interesting than just having the grain as a plain accompaniment to something.

Tara said...

Hi Lotus, no couscous and quinoa are not the same thing ...I think there are two types on couscous - one is just like a small bit of pasta and the other looks more like a tiny pearl.

Robin, that sounds delicious!

Janice, yes quinoa is a 'nutritional powerhouse'! Your salad sounds lovely and very summery.

Karen, yes, it is a bit more interesting this way, rather than plain. I think it's a great grain since it is so versatile.

BooksPlease said...

I really like couscous but I've only tried quinoa once - not a success, but you've motivated me to give it another try.

I've never seen purple broccoli - it does look interesting.

Carrie K said...

I have! And I might actuallly finally be pronouncing it correctly.

Purple broccoli? Huh. Not so much.

nutmeg said...

Quinoa - I'd have to see if it is sold here! Sounds very similar to bulgher wheat (like Karen mentioned) which we put in tabouli (sp?). It also sounds similar to pearl barley that I love putting in winter soups and stews! They may be part of the same family?

Nan said...

What a treat to come to see you this Monday morning and find quinoa!! It is one of my favorites, though Tom doesn't like it at all. It is really like nothing else, and that's a good way to describe it. "It's not like bulgur, it's not like cous cous, it's not like orzo." Apparently it is one of the highest protein foods, and not technically a grain. I do rinse mine, but I think some of the packaged ones don't have to be rinsed. This is what I read:
"Before cooking, the seeds must be rinsed to remove their bitter resin-like coating, which is called saponin. Quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged and sold, but it is best to rinse again at home before use to remove any of the powdery residue that may remain on the seeds. The presence of saponin is obvious by the production of a soapy looking "suds" when the seeds are swished in water. Placing quinoa in a strainer and rinsing thoroughly with water easily washes the saponin from the seeds. In South America the saponin which is removed from the quinoa is used as detergent for washing clothes and as an antiseptic to promote healing of skin injuries."

I just put mine in a hand held strainer and run cold water over it for five minutes. Maybe I'll make it tonight and share the recipe so you can try it if you want. I love the way it looks when it is cooked, with that little ring around it.

Great post, Tara! Makes me wish I liked broccoli. :<)

Tara said...

Booksplease, I hope you like it if you decide to try it again. The book I have suggests that the following are 'compatible' with quinoa - corn, black beans, lemon, lime, oregano, chiles, tomatoes, bell peppers, cilantro (I think you call this coriander?) - a lot of what I consider Mexican/Latin flavors - which makes sense since it's grown in the Andes.

Carrie, you don't like broccoli - or just the purple variety? = )

Nutmeg, I think Nan is right (above) about quinoa being unique - it is not quite like any other grains. I'd be interested to know if you could find it there.

Nan, thank you for all the information! Too bad that Tom doesn't like it - I don't know why but I get so irritated when my husband doesn't like foods that I do! I'd love to have your recipe - I'll look forward to it. And you don't like broccoli? I love it, perhaps when I post a different recipe for it (which I've been planning) you'll change your mind ;-)

heather (errantdreams) said...

Apparently quinoa has a bitter coating, which is why you need to rinse it. Perhaps that contributed to your not liking it at first?

I've cooked it and used it in whole-grain bread, and I've used it as a rice substitute under stir-fry. It makes a nice break from other grains.

Tara said...

Heather, I don't know - it may have just been a bad product, or maybe what I'm buying now has already been washed? Who knows. I agree, it is a nice break from the other more usual options.